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‘It’s contrary to principle of law’ — Eni kicks against retrial of OPL 245 case in Nigeria

‘It’s contrary to principle of law’ — Eni kicks against retrial of OPL 245 case in Nigeria
March 30
20:29 2021

Eni, an Italian oil and gas company, says there are no reasons for a new trial in Nigeria after an Italian court acquitted it of corruption charges in the OPL 245 deal.

The company said this in reaction to a letter addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari by a coalition of civil society organisations to ensure that the accused parties face trial for the same allegations in Nigerian courts.

On March 17, an Italian court acquitted Shell, Eni and other defendants of corruption charges in the OPL 245 transaction.

Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), Re:Common, Global Witness, and Corner House had said that there would be no risk of double jeopardy due to the differences between legal systems in Italy and Nigeria.

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However, in a statement sent to TheCable on Tuesday, Eni said the federal government had specifically chosen the court in Milan, as the qualified and entitled venue to bring the case against its oil company alongside other defendants, and they were declared innocent of wrongdoing.

“We find it really shocking and contrary to any principle of law that these groups not being satisfied with the Milan court verdict, ignoring all of the above and defaming the courts of the Republic of Italy expressly chosen by the Nigerian state as well, are now looking to obtain a new trial in another country on alleged offences which have been proved to be completely groundless by a sovereign state court and other prominent global authorities,” the statement read.

“Nigeria participated to the full extent at the case, brought expertise, evidence and arguments. And lost.”

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Eni added that Piero Amara, a former legal adviser to the company, is currently under investigation for his “fake statements”.

Amara alleged that Eni had ordered information to be gathered on prosecutors, board members and journalists in a bid to gain an advantage in the trial.

“We note that the ONGs groups you mention are basing their requests for a new trial in Nigeria on Piero Amara statements, who has been convicted in a series of different serious offences by an Italian Court, and is currently under investigation/denunciation for its fake statements,” Eni said, in a statement.

“We find it unconceivable to rely on statements by a convicted fraudster, liar and defamator.

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“In the appeal case of two agents of Malabu (Mr. Emeka Obi and Gianlkuca Di Nardo) under trial in front of the Court of Appeal of Milano in accordance with the outcome of “fast track” procedure, it was the Prosecutor General c/o the Court of Appeal (to which the prosecutors in the first instance court that brought the case against ENI/Shell in the recent case are subordinated), had requested herself on March 22, 2021 that the two agents be acquitted as there is no case to debate.”

Eni further said the non-utilisation of the OPL 245 oil block to create jobs and boost the economy is a detriment to Nigeria.

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